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Hercules Movie and Differences Between Disney's Interpretation and the Greek Myth

Updated on April 4, 2013

 

          Most everyone is aware of the reputation Disney hold's for 'butchering' classic stories and for putting a happy-go-lucky spin on history.  Now, I love Disney as much as the next person, especially as a mother of two young children.  At first glance there are a few major differences between the classic Greek myth and the Disney rendition.  One of the biggest inconsistencies that I immediately found was while all the other characters in the movie use their Greek names, Hercules goes by his Roman name instead of his Greek name, Heracles.  While this does not make the Disney version wrong, it just doesn't flow the same, when choosing the names of the characters, why not be historically correct and use either all Greek or all Roman names for the Gods and Goddesses. 

            Another major inconsistency in the Disney version from the classic version is that Disney portrays Hercules mother as being Hera.  While Hera is Zues' wife, she is not the mother of Hercules.  Hercule's was actually the 'love-child' of one of Zues' infidelities with a mortal woman named Alcmene.  In the actual myth Hera hated Hercules and even went so far as attempting to have him killed.  To Hera, Hercules was a living-breating reminder of her husband's unfaithful relationship with Alcmene.  Now, from Disney's perspective I believe that this omission might be justifiable as this is a children's movie, and infidelity is not a topic that should be breached with the younger crowd.  This is something that they would simply not understand.  So Disney changed the myth from having Hera sending snakes to kill Hercules, to having the snakes being sent by Hades. 

            Hades is also a character that was portrayed as someone he is not in the Disney version of the Hercules myth.  Disney portrayed Hades as being Satan rather than the God of the Underworld.  In Greek mythology Hades was a respected God, like all the others, who just happened to rule over the Underworld.  This does not make him the Devil.  In fact, not only was he God of the underworld, but he was a devoted husband to Persephone.  Disney shows Hercules as going to the underworld to retrieve Megara's soul, however in the myth Hercules descends into the underworld to get Cerberus for Eurystheus. 

            Megara is in the underworld, according to Disney, because she had sold her soul to Hades.  There is no evidence or mention of Hades buying or bartering souls in Greek mythology.  This is another example of how Disney portrayed Hades as being the Devil and not the Greek God that he truly was.  According to Greek mythology, Hercules actually kills Megara. 

            Disney ends the movie with the notion that Hercules chooses to stay with Megara to live as a mortal.  However, Hercules actually dies and earns immortality staying in Olympus and marrying Hera's daughter Hebe.  This is another fact that I can understand Disney rewriting, because it has to do with remarrying.  As I said before I can understand that Disney has chose to change some of these facts, as they do not make for a good Children's story.  However, rather than changing facts, why not just omit certain things all together?   

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      Anthony 

      3 years ago

      I'm glad I didn't have to write any essays on Greek myths cause I can see myself using this movie for ideas and totally failing. I admit that as a kid I grew up with this movie and still treasure it as a great movie for the family due to the humor and music but it's true that as far as the myth goes, 97% of the movie is incorrect. Thankfully Rick Riordan helped me see the correctness of the myths and now I know how the stories go. Unfortunately this movie was not the only one to twist the myths and characters in them in the wrong way since the recent Clash of the Titans did similar injustices, the biggest one is portraying Hades as Satan of Greek mythology which is 100% wrong. A reasonable person would actually feel sorry for him because he got the very short end of the stick, yet he deals with that fact to the best of his ability, not to mention that the others gods turn up their noses at him because of his job position. You'd think that as the eldest son of Cronus and the fact he guided the gods through Tartarus to help them win the Titanomachy he'd have earned more respect but oh well. Bottom line, Greek mythology is not Christian mythology and trying to make it such is kinda insulting to the ancient polytheism (which came first). Thankfully books can still teach the correct interpretations of the myths, even Percy Jackson lol.

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      lol 

      4 years ago

      This stupid movie made me think that Hera and Zeus were Hercules actually parents. I got a disapproving teacher, because I mixed up on the information from the movie and what I had studied. Thanks a lot childhood Disney.

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      Shaneika Rogers 

      5 years ago

      Thanks made a lot of sense. Great subject to write about.

    • profile image

      Chris 

      6 years ago

      @Ava That or maybe she just wanted to explain to people how Disney changed the story of Hercules. Frankly, I even knew most of this stuff...and I'm only 16.

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      HELP!!! 

      6 years ago

      this was really helpful for part of my essay but i need to find SIMILARITIES between the movie and the legend. The difference are all 2 easy to find/see but similarites. well, i need a five paragraph essay...

      HELP!

    • profile image

      Heather 

      6 years ago

      Finally someone goes through all the things Disney f***ed up with the myth of Heracles. My view is why even make the movie if you have to change so many things. Greek mythology is riddled with horrible things kids should not be exposed to at a young age. It should not be made into a medium children will be readily drawn to. I love the mythology, but as it is a view of their beliefs and society, the Greeks had a despicable culture.

    • profile image

      Amy 

      6 years ago

      Thank you very much. I am writing an essay in Latin about how Disney's Hercules is inaccurate and this really helped!

    • profile image

      gloria 

      6 years ago

      thank you so much. i am currently taking a greek myth class and this helped a lot when i had to do a paper pertaining to hercules and the differences the media had to the actual myth

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